January 1, 2011

Books: Take Me Away to Argentina

Take Me Away Saturday

For those of you unfamiliar with Take Me Away Saturday: I started it because I love books that take place in different cultures and are about different cultures. Take Me Away is a way to share with other readers books that can transport them into another culture. Each week I feature a different country or culture (ex. Cherokee, Jewish, etc. that do not have a specific country per se) and list some books that can transport you there. (Note: ex. not necessarily books by a German or an Australian, but books set in Germany or Australia.) I try to provide a variety of fiction genres as well as nonfiction selections.

I am keeping a map of the countries we visit, which you can see at the bottom of this post. There is also a list of both countries and cultures visited in past Take Me Away posts. Check them out and discover some good books to read and recommend some, too!

This week we are visiting the South American country of Argentina:

I structured this post a little differently. Let me know what you think!


In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin (Penguin Books)

In Patagonia is Bruce Chatwin's exquisite account of his journey through "the uttermost part of the earth," that stretch of land at the southern tip of South America, where bandits were once made welcome and Charles Darwin formed part of his "survival of the fittest" theory. Chatwin's evocative descriptions, notes on the odd history of the region, and enchanting anecdotes make In Patagonia an exhilarating look at a place that still retains the exotic mystery of a far-off, unseen land. An instant classic upon publication in 1977, In Patagonia remains a masterwork of literature.


The Argentina Reader: History, Culture, Politics (Latin America in Translation) by Gabriela Nouzeilles, Graciela Montaldo, Robin Kirk, and Orin Starn

An extensive collection of documents, the book is divided into ten major sections, representing topics and issues such as the independence movement, populism under Per'n, and state violence following Per'n's death in 1974. A brief but useful introduction sets the stage for the documents in each section, and each one is preceded by an explanatory note. There are 77 documents included, 40 of which have not been previously published in English. The editors have carefully selected pieces that represent voices outside mainstream Argentina, several from writers whose words have been silenced. From Eurocentric cosmopolitan Buenos Aires to gauchos on the last frontier, these readings have a powerful collective impact. The volume complements the recent Culture and Customs of Argentina to provide a comprehensive view of this complex nation of some 37 million people.

The Little School: Tales of Disappearance and Survival in Argentina by Alicia Partnoy and Julia Alvarez

Military regimes are not at all unusual in Argentina, but those that ruled from 1976 to 1979 were unique in the number of civilians, mostly young people, who were kidnapped, jailed, tortured, and/or murdered because of their political beliefs. Late in 1977 the author was taken into custody by the army and sent to "the little school," one of many camps where dissidents were "taught" their "lessons." Imprisoned without charges, she spent almost a year blindfolded and bound, cut off from friends and family, including her child, until being inexplicably released. Partnoy's glimpses of her life in prison are understandably disjointed and meandering, but they stand as a record of character and fortitude.

Eva Peron: A Biography by Alicia Dujovne Ortiz and Shawn Fields

A biography of Evita, the saintly madonna of Argentina which leans more toward entertainment than heavy history. Ortiz recounts Eva Peron's humble birth, her extraordinary rise to power in Argentina at the side of her husband General Juan Peron, and her short and legendary reign as a virtual queen, dispensing comfort to the masses before she died from cancer at 33. Evita was christened Eva Maria Duarte by her mother, whose liberal sex life was a necessary response to poverty. The beautiful Eva found the same necessity when she went to find work as an actress in Buenos Aires. Eva's power over men eventually caught General Peron, and together their hatred of the ruling oligarchy reshaped the country. It is a political story with enough spice to make a dozen bodice-ripping novels.


Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way by Francis Mallman and Peter Kaminsky

A trailblazing chef reinvents the art of cooking over fire. Gloriously inspired recipes push the boundaries of live-fired cuisine in this primal yet sophisticated cookbook introducing the incendiary dishes of South America's biggest culinary star. Chef Francis Mallmann—born in Patagonia and trained in France's top restaurants—abandoned the fussy fine dining scene for the more elemental experience of cooking with fire. But his fans followed, including the world's top food journalists and celebrities, such as Francis Ford Coppola, Madonna, and Ralph Lauren, traveling to Argentina and Uruguay to experience the dashing chef's astonishing—and delicious—wood-fired feats. The seven fires of the title refer to a series of grilling techniques that have been singularly adapted for the home cook. So you can cook Signature Mallmann dishes—like Whole Boneless Ribeye with Chimichuri; Salt-Crusted Striped Bass; Whole Roasted Andean Pumpkin with Mint and Goat Cheese Salad; and desserts such as Dulce de Leche Pancakes—indoors or out in any season. Evocative photographs showcase both the recipes and the exquisite beauty of Mallmann's home turf in Patagonia, Buenos Aires, and rural Uruguay. Seven Fires is a must for any griller ready to explore food's next frontier.

Living in Argentina (Taschen's Lifestyle) by Ana Cardinale, Isabel de Estrada, Angelika Taschen, and Ricardo Labougle

Argentina considers itself the most European of South American countries, and with good reason. The Argentineans are highly cultivated people with a strong connection to the old world; their achievements in design, filmmaking, literature, music, and art place them firmly in today s global culture spotlight. When it comes to decorating, they have a great talent for bringing together the old and the new, with subtle touches of color and rich textiles, and incorporating the country s beautiful landscapes in their architectural palette. Editor Angelika Taschen invites readers to pore over this selection of houses, apartments, ranches, polo grounds, and more, including an opulent century-old opera house where Maria Callas sang as well as the homes of Francis Mallmann, the country s most famous chef, Xul Solar, painter and close friend of the great Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges, and Juan Gatti, graphic designer for Pedro AlmodÃvar.

Imagining Argentina by Lawrence Thornton

During the recent military rule in Argentina, outspoken journalist Cecilia Rueda is among the "disappeared," one of the thousands of prisoners tortured and frequently murdered by a regime that then denies their existence. After her disappearance, Cecilia's playwright husband Carlos discovers that he has a gift: when someone recounts the last known details of a disappeared, Carlos sees that person's present situation in a vision that released prisoners verify as accurate. Narrated by the Ruedas' friend, Martin Benn, in whose terse style both atrocities and surreal tales are effectively conveyed, this work has valid moral grounds faith in the imagination's ability to sustain life that nevertheless cannot undermine the horrors of material reality that Benn describes. (Has been made into a movie with Antonio Bandaras and Emma Thompson.)

Resurrecting Midnight (Gideon Series #4) by Eric Jerome Dickey

nternational assassin Gideon spilled blood for the first time when he was seven years old, with a single shot to the head of a man who was attempting to kill the woman Gideon had known as his mother. The victim was none other than his own father, a man of unspeakable evil. This pivotal event shaped Gideon throughout his life, made him who he is, one of the fiercest, most feared hired guns in the world. And one of the most hunted. After nearly losing his life in Antigua during a mission that went terribly wrong, Gideon trusts no one. But when a former lover and grifter, Arizona, resurfaces in need of his skills, she reminds him he was indebted to a man who had once saved his life: the son of the legendary con-man Scamz. Gideon is forced to take on an assignment which will lead him to Argentina in pursuit of a briefcase containing one part of a larger puzzle. The "package" contains material that another group of assassins - the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse - will kill to obtain and protect. As Gideon struggles to keep promises and uncover information about his past, he finds himself at the center of the ultimate double-cross and he is forced to do what he must to protect himself and those closest to him. Set amidst the exotic and vibrant streets of Miami and Buenos Aires, Resurrecting Midnight is an action-filled, pulse- pounding thriller from bestselling author Eric Jerome Dickey.

The Ministry of Special Cases by Nathan Englander

An unforgettable work of realism and of the imagination, a hallucinatory journey into a world of terror, into a forbidden city within a city at a time of radical instability and dislocation, Englander's novel moves effortlessly between the cosmic and the minute, wrestling with extraordinary themes and binding them into an exceptionally crafted narrative that fuses absurdity and desolation with transcendence and abiding love. The fate of the Jews; the fate of the disappeared; the fate of one family- of a hopelessly lost father and a hopelessly lost son all meet in the dark, inescapably tortuous corridors of the Ministry of Special Cases...

Life, After by Sarah Littman

After a terrorist attack kills Dani’s aunt and unborn cousin, life in Argentina—private school, a boyfriend, a loving family—crumbles quickly. In order to escape a country that is sinking under their feet, Dani and her family move to the United States. It’s supposed to be a fresh start, but when you’re living in a cramped apartment and going to high school where all the classes are in another language—and not everyone is friendly—life in America is not all it’s cracked up to be. Dani misses her old friends, her life, Before. But then Dani meets a boy named Jon, who isn’t like all the other students. Through him, she becomes friends with Jessica, one of the popular girls, who is harboring a secret of her own. And then there’s Brian, the boy who makes Dani’s pulse race. In her new life, the one After, Dani learns how to heal and forgive. She finds the courage to say goodbye and allows herself to love and be loved again.

This is just a sampling of books on Argentina for you to try. Do you want to recommend/share books that take place in Argentina? Or do you want to share other thoughts? Please leave a note in the comments!

Be sure to check back for another trip in books!

Here is what is coming up next:
European country of Italy
Asian country of Bangladesh

Take Me Away Map:
I apologize, but the site is still not working properly. Looking for other mapping sites.

Where we've been and the books that take us there:
The Americas and the Caribbean
Triple Threat-Baltic States
Middle East
Sierra Leone
Australia, Pacific Islands
New Zealand
Cultures Across the World
Australian Aborigines
Sioux Nation
Inuit Culture
Amish Culture


  1. Ooh that classic looks really good!

  2. I love this feature and always get a book or two to add to my "to get" list. Thank you! The YA book and the Little School both sound interesting.

  3. Oh, a good one for Bangladesh is Muhammed Yunnus' book on helping women start small businesses. I found it really interesting. He is man who won the Nobel Peace Prize

  4. In Patagonia has been sitting on my nightstand for months. I really should finish it...

  5. I knew there would be an Eva Peron book in there somewhere. :)

  6. We've seen the play, Evita, three times.

    Happy new year!

    Happy blogoversary!

  7. I've read only a few Argentinian works: Prisoner without a Name, Cell without a Number***** by Jacobo Timerman (non-fiction),The Aleph and Other Stories****, and Labyrinths :Selected Short Stories**** by Jorge Luis Borges, The Redemption of the Cannibal Woman and Other Stories****+ by Marco Denevi, and The Tunnel by Ernesto Sabato, which I read so many years ago I can't remember any details.
    Great street shot at the top of the post by the way. I always enjoy this feature. See you in Italy next week.

  8. Nice! :-) I love this feature.

  9. Argentina is also well known for its special foods that they serve to people that you couldn't find it in any other places, here's a place where you could stay when you visit Argentina.

    Hostels in Bariloche

  10. I really enjoyed In Patagonia, though it's several years since I read it. My partner has all of Bruce Chatwin's books.

  11. I've been to Argentina in real life and loved it! One author from Argentina I recommend is Borges.

  12. Awesome post! I love the way you approached it. I'm definitely going to look into the Englander novel and The Little School. That bio of Peron is totally fascinating. Read it when the movie came out...yeah, yeah, because of Madonna.

  13. Just a note to say I've missed you. I'm assuming you're just busy with your courses. Blogging takes a lot of time from other things. I hope your fatigue and pain problems are letting you do what you want. We're doing Dewey's 24 hour read-a-thon today. I'm too sick to participate but I still read a lot every day, I just can't post often. Take care of yourself R.


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